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Myanmar: ICJ Case

Volume 684: debated on Tuesday 24 November 2020

What assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of Canada and the Netherlands formally joining the Gambia in the International Court of Justice case on the genocide of Rohingya people by the Myanmar Government. (909160)

The UK Government have been clear about their political support for the ICJ process, and we continue to urge Myanmar to comply with the provisional measures ruling. We are aware of the intention of the Netherlands and Canada to intervene and understand that they will take a final decision once the case progresses. We are monitoring the case closely and continue to consider whether UK intervention would add value to its merits.

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. However the failure to secure justice and hold the Burmese Government and the military in particular to account sends a dangerous message to other Governments that genocide and ethnic cleansing are acceptable policy tools. We are seeing that elsewhere in the world, too. I have asked this question of the Minister and the Foreign Secretary time and again, but, let me ask it once again: can the Minister say very clearly that the UK Government will join that case? If he cannot say so today, will he commit to saying so soon? Very eminent British lawyers, such as Philippe Sands, are involved and are asking the British Government to support it, because if they do not, people will quite rightly ask whether it is a case of the UK Government taking the stance that it is acceptable to commit acts of genocide on Muslim minorities.

I congratulate the hon. Lady on her work on this issue, alongside the former Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Surrey (Jeremy Hunt). She is absolutely right to say that accountability is vital. The Myanmar military has committed atrocities against the Rohingya and other minorities, and there has been no tangible progress on accountability. We have been very clear about our support for the ICJ process. It is putting pressure on Myanmar to protect the Rohingya and to work towards genuine accountability. She mentioned genocide. We agree with the UN fact-finding mission that the events of 2017 constitute ethnic cleansing. We are clear that the question of whether genocide took place is a legal determination to be made by a competent court. The ICJ is a competent court and we welcome its consideration of the issue. I look forward to welcoming her and my right hon. Friend to discuss these issues in the FCDO shortly.